I THINK Ash Regan’s proposal to “empower voters” at each future election where independence is the prime but not the sole issue is less risky and more sensible than fighting an all-or-nothing de facto referendum at the next General Election. However, believing that a simple majority of one would be sufficient to gain international recognition or force Westminster into independence negotiations is naive. A more convincing victory is required.

In the referendums to set up the devolved parliament, two rounds of voting were required. In 1979, a majority for Yes (51.6%) was achieved but the victory was denied by the amendment of George Cunningham, a Scottish Labour MP, stating that a majority exceeding 40% of the electorate was required. There was a huge outcry at the time, with Yes supporters claiming the denial of the will of Scottish people.

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In the event, a second vote in 1997 with Labour by then onside returned an overwhelming 74.3% Yes vote which led to the setting up of the Scottish Parliament. Few if any (only some Tories) could dispute the will of the Scottish people, so devolution was established with a strong authority.

I am not suggesting that a similar percentage Yes is required to establish independence, but more than a majority of one is required. What should this percentage be? 52% was enough to secure Brexit and nearly 55% for No was hailed as decisive after the first referendum, but don’t discount the Westminster government being hypocritical in rejecting such votes.

Also, sadly there is a sizeable “loyalist” faction within our population. Don’t doubt their threat of violent reactions if the majority for Yes is not convincing. I know lifelong supporters of Labour who may be open to voting for independence but who will not if a simple majority is all that is required, fearing such a backlash.

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It’s difficult to determine what margin of victory would remove all doubt, gain international recognition and compel Westminster to accept independence. A two-thirds majority has been suggested but I suggest 60% would suffice. Whatever figure was accepted would set the level for any future constitutional changes in an independent Scotland. It’s a high bar to achieve, but one which I believe is acceptable and achievable like the change between 1979 and 1997.

I resisted what I have just proposed for years, but the election of a new first minister allowing us to reset our strategy for achieving a strong independent Scotland has changed my view. The new first minister should open negotiations immediately with Westminster so that such a majority at a future election would be recognised, or, if recognised opinion polls – say over a three-month period – show a mean Yes vote of 60%, a referendum would be granted. If they refused to accept such proposals, their denial of democracy would be internationally established, giving the Scottish Government legitimacy to proceed to a recognised Declaration of Independence when such a majority was achieved.

I want Scotland to be independent yesterday, but a post-independence society split will not be healthy so a convincing endorsement is necessary.

Campbell Anderson

I AM getting on a bit and have to admit to occasionally being confused but I read copious coverage of the SNP leadership election in your pages, I watched the hustings from Dumfries on my iPad, and I see in Tuesday’s telly listings, Scotland’s Next First Minister: The STV Debate. But only a matter of days ago I am sure that all these media conglomerates were posturing faux outrage at the lack of media exposure of the candidates! It’s almost as if these people had no interest in telling the truth.

Ian Richmond